Every now and then in this strange old musical world a band crops up that makes you think, wow, these people really mean what they say and love what they do. Living Dead Stars are just such a band. The band was formed in London in 2016 but is now based in Southern California. They are influenced by such titans as Avenged Sevenfold, System of a Down, and Five Finger Death Punch and while this is clear they also bring their own touches and skills to this masterly debut.
“Redeem Ourselves” which opens the album has an intriguing introduction and then moves into an epic metallic riff laced with some outstanding keyboards. Next up is “Nightmare” which boasts another great intro. This track gives us fair warning that two of the predominant features of this album will be strong vocals and tight exact rhythms.
“Checkmate” begins with a superb drum intro and then leads into a big chunky monster riff which is topped off with some great harmonising in the vocal department. As if that’s not enough this track also shows the gentler side of the band for the first time. “Killzone” is built around a great killer heavyweight fast riff which allows the excellent rhythm section an opportunity to really strut their stuff. Track 5 is “In Pieces”. For me, this is the standout track. Gritty vocals and an excellent arrangement. This epic wide-screen feel is what this band excels at and this track also features an exquisite guitar solo and a marvelous piano coda.
“Hopeless” begins with the same piano figure as the band plays on its epic strengths. As with many albums, this one grows in stature as it progresses. After a strong start, the songwriting becomes even stronger on the later tracks. Track seven is “Escape from Heaven”. The more melodic feel continues and the harmonies are beautiful. This is once again a strong song that benefits from repeated listening.
“Fallen” moves back into slightly thrashy territory but maintains the melodic feel with strong lyrics and vocals. “Through The Fire” begins with the epic feel but moves into a faster rhythm that drives the song to an anthemic close with an army of guitars adding a touch of Iron Maiden style glory. The closing track “Northern Star” opens with beautiful elegiac guitars and strings. The rhythm picks up but sustains a gentler ballad style feel which helps to show the musicality of this band at its best. This is a truly exceptional album by a band that has clearly taken time to assemble their strongest collection of songs. There is light and shade here which makes for a fascinating and engaging listen. With Living Dead Stars you can sense the hunger to really break into the big leagues and judging by this excellent album it won’t be long.
Written by Paul Bamlett.
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